Monday, 21 July 2008

Beat it Team - cleaning up your area.

Do you know of any area that needs cleaning up in Ashton? If so please contact me as soon as possible and I will let the Beat it team know. They will be in Ashton from the 4th to the 8th August.

Cath Iglesias - congratulations on her retirement

One of the more pleasant things I did last week was to attend the retirement party for Cath Iglesias. After 28 years teaching at St. Thomas school she has decided to retire.

I have known Cath for many years now and I wish her all the best for the future as do my children who were taught by her some twenty years ago. The picture shows her in her normal teaching outfit.

Going back to a previous blog about jobs and education I doubt whether many people in the future will be celebrating retirement after spending so much time in the same job.

The congestion charge debate

At the last meeting of Wigan Council it was resolved that the Council would support a referendum conducted throughout Greater Manchester to ask people whether they supported the congestion charge or not. We would support and abide by the decision of the referendum as long as all 10 authorities in the Greater Manchester area agreed the same.

Readers of this blog should also have received the consultation brochure giving facts about the charges with an opportunity to voice an opinion for or against.

It is very difficult to put all the pros and cons of the scheme in a short article like this but I would like to highlight the following points which readers might like to comment on.

1. Manchester is essential to the economic well being of this area.
2. Greater congestion could harm the economy of Manchester
3. Through general taxation and local authority taxation systems residents in this area have subsidised and paid for investment infrastuctures in the city of Manchester without seeing much if any return
4.The congestion charge does offer a hope of investment in public transport for the Wigan area which should be implemented before the charge is introduced.

In the end people will ask themselves 'What is in it for me?' For this area I would hope to see at least:

1 The Wigan/Leigh to Manchester guided bus way
2. Major improvements to Wigan Wallgate and Wigan North Western stations including links to bus networks
3.Refurbishment of all stations in the area including Bryn
4.Construction of a new rail station at Golborne

But will that be enough to compensate for the congestion charge? Or will the people in this area see improvements without having to pay the charge if they never go into Manchester at peak times?

And finally I have a son who lives in a part of Manchester that will not benefit at all from improved public transport infrastructure. He has to travel to Liverpool frequently and consequently pay the charge nearly every day in return for little if any benefit. He will take a great deal of persauding to support the congestion charge.

I would like to hear your views about this important topic.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Inflation and packaging

On the BBC news this morning a reporter was talking about the cost of apples.

What was interesting was that the cost of producing the apples had not gone up much. The reason for the large price increase was the cost of packaging which had risen by 18% in a month. This was because oil is used in the process of making all plastic packaging.

Monday, 14 July 2008

National strike set to hit Wigan council services

Monday 14 July 2008 223/08

Many council services in Wigan borough will be hit this Wednesday and Thursday (16 and 17 July) by a national strike organised by two local government unions – Unison and Unite - over the 2008 pay offer.

Council chiefs say they won’t know for certain the extent of the action until the strike days, but it’s likely that refuse collection and some schools will be affected. However leisure services such as libraries and sports centres will not be hit.

At this stage there’s a possibility that no bins will be emptied on Wednesday and Thursday. However, the advice to householders is that they should still put their bins and paper sacks out just in case. Priority is being given to household waste so green bins may not be emptied. If bins aren’t emptied, they should be taken back onto the property and put out again the following week.

The council has pledged to try and maintain vital services to vulnerable groups and residents who could be at risk. Exemptions have been requested from the trade unions in respect of “Life and Limb” services. So far the council has not heard whether these have been granted.

Bernard Walker, Director of Adult Services, said “Our services will be affected. We are not able to say to what extent, but some places may close. Our aim is to provide as many services as we can, but we are working on the basis of the same principles we would use for public holidays – first priority to those people who are most vulnerable and at risk.”

Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust will NOT be affected by the strike action. Libraries, sports centres, parks, cemeteries and Wigan crematorium should all be operating normally since Unison members employed by the Trust were not included in the ballot. Pay awards for leisure staff are determined by the Trust’s board rather than national negotiation and none of the Trust’s eight-hundred strong workforce will be taking part in strike action.

While teachers are NOT taking action, caretakers, dinner ladies and school admin staff may do so. The council expects some schools may need to close for health and safety reasons, some will be partially open and others unaffected. There will be a partial school meals service and where possible alternative arrangements put in place. Headteachers will notify parents directly of the effects on their individual school.

Wigan and Leigh Housing employees have been balloted, but Wigan and Leigh Housing says it has contingency plans in place which it is confident are workable with little disruption to the public. Repairs to council properties should not be disrupted as Leigh Building Services will be working normally.

The council’s main switchboard – 01942 244991 - will be operating as normal on the strike days and will try to connect callers to the service they require. The environmental services helpline – 01942 404364 – will also operate as normal. The Careline service should be unaffected, as should the central watch station which provides security surveillance.

Wigan Civic Centre cash office will be open for business as normal, but Leigh Town Hall cash office will be closed. People can continue to pay council bills at any Post Office, Paypoint or Payzone outlet. Those paying by debit or credit card can use the Freephone telephone facility with 24/7 automated digital service, or pay via the internet.

Executive Director of Business Support Services, Dr David Smith, said: “This is a national dispute about pay, and action is taking place all over the country. Here in Wigan we will do our best to ensure that essential and emergency services continue, particularly to those that are in need of them most.

“There is likely to be considerable disruption but just how much will not be clear until the strike days. There could also be future action and we will keep residents informed as much as possible through the local media and our website.”

Friday, 11 July 2008

Wigan West By-Election result

There was good news for the Labour Party last night when we retained the seat of Wigan West following the death of the previous councillor Mick Baines. The result was as follows:

1. Labour 817
2. Tory 528
3. Lib Dem 344
4.BNP 200
5.UKIP 124
6. CAP 118

The winning candidate was Steve Dawber.

The new composition of the council is
Labour 42,
Democratic Alliance 11 (of whom 7 are Community Action and 4 Liberal Democrat)
Conservative 10,
Independent 8
Independent Conservative 4.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Education for the future

I attended a conference last week which was the beginning of the process to shape schools for the future in Wigan. Soon the Council will be bidding for one quarter of a billion pounds of Government funding to improve the Borough's education provision and build schools that will prepare young people for the future. This expenditure will be the biggest capital investment in the last 50 years.

One of the most interesting aspects that were discussed at the conference was the nature of educational provision for children of the future. I have a grandson who is nine months old. According to what I was told at the conference he will probably have 18 jobs in his lifetime - long gone are the days when you started in a job as a young person and retired doing the same job. Furthermore 80% of the jobs that will be available when he is of age to work do not exist now. And finally he probably will be working on his own as the work community as we know it will have gone. This is already happening - my second son does a lot of his work from a lap top computer wherever he is at the time.

Now all this is conjecture but I believe the main thrust of it is accurate. So the question for today's education chiefs and indeed the community is ' How do we educate our children for the future and what skills will they need to cope with a very fast changing world?'

Golborne Road/Bolton Road

Further to the points residents have made about the proposed changes to the junction at Golborne Road and Bolton Road I print below the reply I have received from Stuart Dawber the traffic engineer heading this project.

This scheme is an accident reduction scheme, not a congestion scheme and therefore has be designed to reduce road collisions. The proposed improvements are minor and would not add to congestion in any way. This is one of many schemes that is undertaken annually in the borough undertaken at low cost. The only way to assist cars turning out of Golborne Road is to introduce traffic signals at this junction. Unfortunately signals would be very expensive and the scheme would not meet its financial objectives.

2. As mentioned in the previous point, the proposals will not effect congestion. The final design will still allow traffic to queue in two lanes as it does presently during busy periods. We are aware that this is a busy junction and our proposals we not alter how it presently operates. As this is an accident reduction scheme, we studied when the injury accidents occurred. Most of the accidents happened outside of rush hours therefore it was not necessary to visit the site when there were standing traffic. We needed to understand what was happening when traffic conditions were light. The collisions that may happen in busy periods are likely to be low speed that do not cause injury. Changing the radius of the kerb will reduce the speed and angle you can exit Golborne Road.

Additional point on the BLOG…..

3. The current layout from a traffic point of view is adequate but from a collision reduction point of view it needs slight amendments. The proposed trees will be positioned not to obscure visibility exiting Golborne Road but will reduce visibility from a distance so the driver will be focused on the traffic ahead and not traffic travelling on Bolton Road.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Combatting fly posting

Wigan Council is waging war on illegal fly posting.

The council’s Environmental Crime team has been gathering CCTV evidence as part of a new drive to improve the image of the borough’s town centres.

The team is currently working with Greater Manchester Police to trace two culprits who travel over to Wigan from Yorkshire each month, plastering disused buildings and bus shelters with illegal posters.

Councillor David Molyneux, Cabinet champion for the Environment says:
“It’s time to clamp down on environmental criminals who blight our borough by fly posting.

“Working with the police, we will target and identify the individuals who attach posters to derelict buildings – and the companies who benefit from the illegal advertising. They will be made to foot the bill for removing the posters and face prosecution.

One of the vehicles used by the Yorkshire pair is neither registered nor insured.

Cllr Molyneux adds:
“We are concerned that as well as fly posting, these people are travelling into our borough to commit other crimes, so we’ve have asked police in both Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire to assist in identifying the owners of the vehicles involved. We also welcome the public’s support in reporting these types of environmental crime.”

Fly posting is a crime and residents are encouraged to report it to the council’s Environmental Services Helpline on 01942 404364 or on line at

Pavement Works:-Gerard Street

The next phase of the town centre improvement scheme is outlined below.

The proposed pavement improvements are to be carried out to the front of numbers 25-41 Gerard Street. Following consultation the residents in this area will be notified that the work are programmed to begin on Monday 7th July.

However, the start date depends on Wigan council's contractor not having been delayed by poor weather elsewhere.

The contractors will begin by replacing the kerbs and rebuilding the pavement with block paving similar to that used on the footway along the opposite side of Gerard Street.

If you have any questions about the works, residents can contact Steve Hughes Area Engineer (Highway Maintenance)on 404364.

Right Of Way Improvements linking town centres and schools : Moxon Way to Edge Green Street

Wigan Council is proposing minor improvements to the Bridleway connecting Moxon Way and Edge Green Street in Ashton - see map above. This scheme is part of the capital programme for 2008/09 and will provide an off road link to St Wilfred's Primary School, which will hopefully encourage more children to walk or cycle to school.

If anybody has any comments or suggestions regarding these proposals, please forward them to Carl Bradshaw on Fax: 01942 404210 or Email: by 11th July 2008.